While We’re At It: Seeking a Throwback to BRB

Since we’re already on the subject of internet acronyms, if there’s one textual cyber-abbreviation that has gone the way of the CD-ROM that I genuinely miss, it’s “BRB.” At what point did BRB become obsolete? While the majority of these jumbled letter sets are meant to speed up the typing process, BRB was a way to separate human beings from insanity, to assuage anxiety, to quell the horrible feeling that you are, in fact, being ignored.

I don’t know a single person – male OR female, mind you – who hasn’t had the following problem: You’re texting back and forth with someone, and just as it’s getting interesting, they stop responding. Sometimes they have on their read receipts (a.k.a. the most fucked up thing ever invented) and you know that they’ve gotten your text and are simply not responding. Other times, you literally have no idea if the person was run over by a semi while crossing Fifth Avenue and sending an emoji of a martini glass.  This isn’t restricted to  text flirting or conversations with current/potential significant others/people you’re trying to lay- indeed, sometimes it’s just a casual conversation with a friend, or even a professional contact – but with these latter two groups, it’s usually not such a big deal because there’s nothing loaded. Nothing’s more frustrating than having pixellated letters, or a lack thereof, be the one thing standing between you and your orgasm. 

The one flaw of the BRB was that people went the way of the phrase itself and simply never returned. I’m sure people have ended relationships with a BRB. It wasn’t foolproof. But at least you didn’t waste time thinking that the textee was going to answer you in that very moment. Like the mexican “ahorita,” BRB could indicate anywhere from five minutes to a couple of days. It’s annoying. It’s kind of impolite. But it’s better than nothing. 

I’m not saying that if you’re texting someone, you have to be engaged with immediacy for the duration of the conversation. People like texting because you don’t have to give the textee their undivided attention; since we’re living in a grossly selfish age, this appeals to the sensibilities of the modern individual. What I’m usually guilty of in this situation is seeing the message, putting my phone down with the intention of responding in a minute or two, and then remembering an hour or two later, after I’ve gone running or worked a lunch shift. I get embarrassed, spend ten minutes writing and rewriting something quippy yet apologetic that still answers their original text, and then call someone to moan about how much I hate texting. But often we place our hopes and dreams on, or at least plan our next hour around, a text response, especially in a place like New York. Nothing’s more annoying than texting someone to see if you should meet them downtown, not getting a response, hopping on the 1 train, and then hearing your phone buzz when you emerge above ground at 125th: “Meet me at Union Square.” 

What we need, thus, is the return of the BRB. At some point, people decided that the individual was more important than the other, that having access to 4GLTE and FaceBook made them a minor celebrity who didn’t need to worry about their impact on other human beings, that they were the most important person in the world. This happens very easily when your phone is constantly buzzing with notifications: So and so wants to be your friend! XYZ likes your picture! ABC followed your blog! Damn, you think, I’m making it big. No time for the peons messaging me. I’ve given up on asking people to stop texting me and just call, though I still have my arsenal of five or six true friends who I voice speak to regularly. All I’m asking is that if you’re going to go take a dump, masturbate, run a 5k, or cook a three course meal while we’re in the middle of a serious discussion about buying tickets to a concert, you do me a favor and type those three little letters: BRB.



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